CHICAGO, United States, Wednesday April 25, 2012 – Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn will be honoured today (April 25) for his work in Haiti with the presentation of the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago.
Every year, the Nobel Laureates honour a cultural or entertainment personality who has promoted peace and stood up for human rights.
Past winners of the Peace Summit Award include musician Sir Bob Geldof and actor and director Roberto Benigni.
The laureates are honouring Penn’s work in Haiti which began in 2010, when he left Hollywood glitz behind and set up shop on the slopes of a private golf club in Port-au-Prince, where thousands of homeless Haitians sought shelter under makeshift tents.
The charitable organisation he founded, J/P Haitian Relief Organisation, managed a camp of 50,000 people, helping with food, sanitation and health care. It continues to be a rapidly growing and increasingly prominent aid group.
The American actor, who stormed onto the scene of one of the worst natural disasters in history, remains an active and committed part of the process.
Defying sceptics, he has put down roots in Haiti, a country he hadn’t even visited before the January 2010 earthquake, and has become a major figure in the efforts to rebuild.
“This country is finally getting out of the hole,” he told the Press at a house in the Haitian capital that serves as his NGO’s crash pad, with rooms divided by plywood and a sign in the kitchen saying “No seconds until everyone has had a chance to eat”.
In response to the Peace Summit Award, the star of “Dead Man Walking,” “Mystic River” and “Milk” said he was grateful to be honoured by the Nobel laureates.
“It’s difficult to properly respond to this while avoiding cliché,” he said. “I’m thrilled to receive this tribute and to represent it to the youth of Haiti, the strong women of Haiti, and of the world.
“Many in my generation know cowardice well, but not the youth and not the women. And never the Haitians,” he said.